Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Han Solo Star Wars spin-off blasts into hyperspace

The next Star Wars spin-off movie has begun filming in London. And the cast and crew boarded the Millennium Falcon for a first look.

The on-set photo confirms the casting of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag). She joins Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Thandie Newton.

“Watching such inspired people from all over the world, with such unique voices, come together for the sole purpose of making art, is nothing short of miraculous,” Lord and Miller said. “We can’t think of anything funny to say, because we just feel really moved, and really lucky.”

The untitled Han Solo movie is scheduled for release 25th May 2018. This contradicts an earlier report suggesting Disney will continue to release Star Wars movies during the holiday season.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Feel the Force of nostalgia with Hasbro's Black Series

Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and the toys, too. Hasbro has announced Black Series action figures, in retro style packaging, during the New York Toy Fair. This is in homage to Kenner's original action figure line from 1977.

Like so many fans, the toys and Marvel comics tie-in were amongst my first, tantalising, glimpses of Star Wars before seeing the movie in 1978. R2-D2 was the first figure I was gifted, after persuading an aunt the diminutive droid was what I wanted, despite having no context. From small beginnings...

Magical memories of visiting Exeter's defunct Pram and Toy Shop and collecting action figures and accessories. Recall a scarcity of Stormtroopers and having to wait until we visited one of my dad's stores in South Wales. Left with a small army.

With the 40th anniversary of Star Wars and the release of The Last Jedi, there's going to be a lot of merchandise for fans of the beloved space opera.

What are your memories of collecting Star Wars toys? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Force Friday returns this September for The Last Jedi

Star Wars fans save the date. Lucasfilm has officially announced Force Friday II to celebrate Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Toys, collectibles, books, apparel and more will go on sale beginning at 12:01 a.m. on 1st September.

“The first Star Wars Force Friday event was truly unique, uniting fans across five continents in an unprecedented global live unboxing event ahead of thousands of midnight openings at retail,” says Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We’re excited to confirm that Star Wars Force Friday is back for ‘The Last Jedi’. Plans for this year’s world-wide event are top secret but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the Star Wars saga.”

The original Force Friday in 2015, promoting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was a merchandising success. Making Sphero's BB-8 the must-have toy that holiday season.

Jill Wilfert, Vice President of global licensing and entertainment from The LEGO Group comments, “It was so much fun to be a part of Star Wars Force Friday, and we can’t wait for fans to join this year’s celebration as we reveal new ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ products during Force Friday II – a global event that will connect fans and families, and allow them to build, create and share their experiences with others.”

Kenner's action figures were synonymous with the launch of Star Wars in 1977. So, it's no surprise the company's successor, Hasbro, has a pivotal role to play in Force Friday II.

“Toys play a unique role in the Star Wars universe, and we’re proud to have been part of that incredible legacy for the past forty years. The new line for ‘The Last Jedi’ is our most innovative yet, and we’re excited to unveil it on Force Friday II,” said Samantha Lomow, Senior Vice President at Hasbro.

The new packaging, unveiled to promote Force Friday II, showcases the heroes and gives fans a first look at Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Last Jedi director at Star Wars Celebration

Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will be attending a panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando this April.

Johnson spoke engagingly about the impact Star Wars had on his life, during the Future Filmmakers panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe, and the audience will never forget when Kennedy suggested he moved the camera as well as Steven Spielberg. So, this is one fans won't want to miss.

The director recently teased updated Stormtroopers on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theatres 15th December.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Black Widow movie after Avengers: Infinity War?

Ever since Scarlett Johansson first appeared as Black Widow, in Iron Man 2, Marvel fans have speculated on when she'd get her own standalone movie.

Talking to Total Film, Johansson said both she and Marvel are very keen to make a Black Widow movie.

“I’ve talked to Kevin Feige about it. We’re creatively really compatible. I think we both agree that the character is right for a standalone, it’s just a case of timing at this point for both Marvel and myself. Marvel has a really huge roster. They’re looking four years ahead. I also have a lot of things that I want to do. If I did it, I would dedicate myself completely to making it amazing. It would have to be the best version that movie could possibly be. Otherwise, I would never do it.”

So, it looks like we won't be seeing Black Widow's solo adventure until at least 2020 after Avengers: Infinity War. Infinity War, the culmination of a storyline that began with Iron Man, sees Thanos pitched against an Avengers in disarray. Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man join in the mayhem.

Avengers: Infinity War, directed by the Russo brothers, is currently in production for release on May 4th 2018.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell

Scarlett Johansson is taking a break from her iconic role as Black Widow, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to play Major in director Rupert Sanders' upcoming live-action adaptation of Japanese manga Ghost in the Shell.

Her cyborg character leads an elite task force called Section 9.

There have been accusations of "whitewashing" in the wake of Johansson's casting and calls to boycott the Paramount Pictures movie.

Responding to the controversy, the acclaimed actress told Marie Claire: “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”

“Having a franchise with a female protagonist driving it is such a rare opportunity,” she added. “Certainly, I feel the enormous pressure of that – the weight of such a big property on my shoulders.”

Ghost in the Shell is in cinemas 31st March.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Marvel insiders love Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

THR reports director James Gunn's upcoming sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 garnered a perfect 100 during a test screening held for Marvel insiders. These lucky individuals comprise of friends and family. However, movies are subject to rigorous testing and screenings are not a pep rally.

A test score is not necessarily indicative of a movie's popularity upon release, but this score eclipses Iron Man 3 and Avengers based on internal metrics at Disney.

The sequel's Super Bowl TV Spot was well received by fans last weekend, and there's every reason to suggest we are in for another galactic treat on 5th May.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Netflix's Castlevania is in the vein of Game of Thrones

Without fanfare, Netflix has announced it's releasing a new series based on Konami's Castlevania videogame franchise.

The animated series, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, will be in the vein of HBO's Game of Thrones and is initially four 30-minute episodes centering around "the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hand of Vlad Dracula Tepe himself.”

"This is very much Castlevania done in the vein of Game of Thrones," co-producer Adi Shankar told IGN, adding: "[The series is] going to be R-rated as f***. [It’s going to be] America’s first animated series for adults."

Castlevania will join stablemates Trollhunters and Voltron: Legendary Defender as Netflix positions itself as an animation powerhouse.

Expect the Castlevania series to debut later in 2017.

Which classic videogame franchises would you like to see adapted as an animated or live-action series? The Legend of Zelda has a rich mythology and Link, along with Simon Belmont, appeared on television screens as part of Captain N: The Game Master in 1989. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Felicity Jones at Star Wars Celebration Orlando

Felicity Jones, who played Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will be among cast members appearing at Star Wars Celebration Orlando this April.

“Having Felicity Jones at Star Wars Celebration to meet all the amazing Star Wars fans is important to us,” said David Leiner General Manager and Vice President of Topps North American Sports and Entertainment. “She’s become an integral part of the Star Wars universe and was immediately loved by fans around the world. We are proud to have her in our first group of announced guests.”

Jones appeared at a Rogue One panel, for Star Wars Celebration Europe, last July. She'll be signing autographs alongside iconic villains at the Star Wars Celebration Autograph Hall. Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine) and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) will be representing the Empire.

Will you be attending Star Wars Celebration Orlando? If so, and you'd like to cover the event, please email.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Stranger Things brings Halloween to the Super Bowl

The New England Patriots staged an historic comeback, lead by Tom Brady, to deny the Atlanta Falcons and win Super Bowl LI. One of the best finals I've watched since American football was popularised in the UK, in the mid 1980s, on Channel Four.

The icing on the cake in lieu of a surprise Star Wars: The Last Jedi TV Spot. Netflix dropped a trailer for Stranger Things season 2. This time the gang are dressed as Ghostbusters! Because 1984.

Stranger Things season 2 premieres on the streaming network this Halloween. That's inspired scheduling.

Looking forward to the return of Stranger Things? Let me know in the comments below.